The Illinois Fighting Illini gave themselves a chance to advance to their first Sweet 16 in 17 years on Sunday, but turnovers doomed their chances as they fell to the Houston Cougars in Pittsburgh.
In all, the Illini turned the ball over 17 times and shot less than 40% from the field, dooming their chances of advancing out of the first weekend of the tournament for the first time since they made it all the way to the national title game in 2005.
Kofi Cockburn had 19 points for the Illini in the losing effort, as they lost in the second round of the tournament for the second straight year.
RJ Melendez had a strong game off the bench with nine points and two assists, while Luke Goode made a pair of three-pointers. It wasn’t enough to help Illinois avoid the loss, bringing to a disappointing end a season that saw them win a share of the Big Ten regular season title.
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Houston had three players score in double figures, including guard Taze Moore, who ended up with 21 points and seven rebounds in the victory. Jamal Shead scored 18 points, while Kyler Edwards chipped in with 12.
Houston will now face the winner of tonight’s game between Arizona and TCU.